turkish kofta platter

turkish kofta platter


I fancy myself as a divine dinner party hostess.  I fancy myself as someone who embodies the total coolitude of Guarnaschelli’s professional kitchen-wizardry, set on Martha’s pristine estate filled with ponies, and accompanied with Beyonce’s crowd.  Someone who could present a seemingly-casual-and-approachable but truthfully-intended-to-shock-and-stun dinner display with nothing but an elegant breeze in and out of the kitchen, in a spotless oh-so-nothing white dress that belongs in Diane Kruger’s closet.  I fancy.

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But the reality is… dinner party freaks me out.  The idea of constructing a crowd-worthy feast in front of people whom I AM definitely going to meet AGAIN, while struggling to distinguish compliments from kindness, is frankly quite exhausting.  And then there’s the worst kind… the UNEXPECTED kind that happens on the day when my husband decided was a good time to shatter my fancy.  That day when I was still in my PJ minus my eyebrows, comfortably at ease preparing this platter of Turkish meatballs with white bean puree for this harmless little post, Jason called and ask if he could invite a friend over for dinner….  UUH!!

“You have the lamb-thing, right?”

Yes, but OOOONLY the lamb-thing.  It was too late in the day for more dishes but I had to say OK because I have long ago decided that this guy who was coming over, is the closest saint-like person we know for letting us ruthlessly ROB his cab after dinner in a freezing night on the deserted streets of Beijing.  THAT’S nobility.  And he deserves nothing less than a big THANK YOU and… yes, just the lamb-thing.

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Oh but THANK GOD that this “lamb-thing” turned out to be… well… rather sublime if I could say so myself.  If there HAS TO BE a day in my life where I have to face the SHAME of presenting nothing but only a SINGLE plate of food when another person is visiting… let it be this plate.  Me and Jason had fallen in love with Turkish foods on our enchanted trip to Istanbul a couple years ago, where we discovered flavors and senses that were strange, and magical at the same time.  Ever since I’ve been whipping up adaptations of dishes we enjoyed and missed dearly.  In this case, a well spiced kofta (meatballs) in little round-shape rather than the traditional oval-shape, accompanied with sweet and nutty pine nuts, fresh mints and chili flakes, on a big plate of tangy cannellini (instead of chickpeas because NO PEELING required!) + Greek yogurt puree.

I managed to finish the cooking before I could literally run to change into a wrinkly T-shirt dress and put on my eyebrows, so our guest wouldn’t be greeted with my PJ stained with meat juice and “where’s your eyebrows?”.  It’s safe to say that the divine dinner hostess didn’t attend the party that day… but her alter ego, me, really really loved these meatballs.

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Servings: 2

If you are not a lamb person, you could substitute the lamb with a combination of beef and pork.

UPDATE 2014/03/24:  Sorry… took a while but finally realized there’s 1/2 tsp of cumin seeds missing from the ingredients.  Oops.


  • Cannellini puree:
    • 2 cans of cannellini beans
    • 1/2 cup of thick Greek yogurt
    • 1 clove of garlic
    • 1 tbsp of tahini/sesame paste
    • 1/4 tsp of ground cumin
    • 1/4~1/2 tsp of salt
    • 1/4 tsp of ground black pepper
  • Lamb meatballs:
    • 500 g of ground lamb, or beef/pork
    • 3 cloves of garlic, finely minced
    • 1 shallot, finely minced
    • 1 tsp of ginger, grated
    • 1 small egg, or 1/2 large egg
    • 1 1/2 tbsp of corn starch
    • 1 tbsp of olive oil
    • 1/2 tsp of ground allspice
    • 1/2 tsp of ground cinnamon
    • 1/4 tsp of ground cumin
    • 1/4 tsp of ground coriander
    • 1/2 tsp of salt
    • 1/8 tsp of ground black pepper
    • 2 tbsp of water to drizzle in
  • 2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil, plus more to drizzle
  • 2 tbsp of pine nuts
  • 1/2 tsp of cumin seeds (updated 2014/03/24)
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 bunch of fresh mint, chopped
  • 1~2 tsp of chili flakes

Drain the cannellini beans of any excess water (the dryer the better).  Add beans, Greek yogurt, garlic, tahini/sesame paste and cumin in the food processor.  Run until a very smooth puree forms.  Season with salt and black pepper to taste.  You could cook the puree in a pot for a few minutes to get rid of the “can”-taste, but it doesn’t really bother me so I wouldn’t stress it.  Set it aside until needed.

Clean the food processor bowl and towel-dry it really well.  Add ground lamb, garlic, shallots, ginger, egg, corn starch, olive oil, allspice, cinnamon, cumin, coriander, salt and black pepper.  Pulse until all the ingredients are evenly combined, then keep the machine running on low and start drizzling in 2 tbsp of water.  Keep the food processor running for a few seconds until the mixture become “paste-like”.  You could also do this on a stand-mixer with a pedal-attachment.  This process “beats” the water and the protein together to achieve an “emulsion” if you will.  It gives the meatball a silky texture.

Preheat the oven on 430ºF/220ºC.

Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.  Form the lamb mixture into tiny meatballs, approx 1 1/2 tsp each and lay them evenly on the baking sheet.  Bake in the preheated oven until the meatballs start to brown and are set in shape.  I find this much easier than doing it in the frying pan because I can do it all in one batch and the round shape retains much better in the oven… and… NO SPLATTER!  Once the meatballs are set, take them out of the oven.  Heat up 2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil in a large non-stick pan on medium-high heat.  Add the meatballs and brown them nicely all over.  Add the pine nuts and cumin seeds (updated), and let them toast until golden brown (this would happen relatively quick!).  Then add the minced garlic, fresh mint and chili flakes.  Cook only for another few seconds.  Re-season it with salt’n pepper.

You may now notice that there are seemingly more than enough meatballs for the amount of beans… did that bother my stealthy munching fingers?  Not one bit…

Pour the cannellini puree on a big platter and do some pretty swirls.  Add the meatballs and pine nuts on top (whatever’s left of it…) and drizzle more extra virgin olive oil and pretty chili flakes on top.

Serve with hot pitas.


  • Nicole (FoodBlogLife)

    March 12, 2013 at 10:13 AM Reply

    WOW! I will be dreaming of this. So beautiful! :)

  • Fawn at Cowen Park Kitchen

    March 14, 2013 at 12:47 AM Reply

    Mouth is watering just looking…mmm.

  • Rhonda

    May 13, 2013 at 7:30 AM Reply

    Happy to say I have made this recipe. Very tasty! The bean puree on it’s own would be suitable to use as a dip. I’ll definitely be making this meal again.

  • Taiyyaba

    February 4, 2014 at 2:48 AM Reply

    I made this for family dinner last night and it was perfect. Thanks!

  • Shan

    March 24, 2014 at 12:44 AM Reply

    Is that fennel seed in the meatballs or the sauce? I see them in the pic, but not the recipe.

    • mandy@ladyandpups.com

      March 24, 2014 at 1:09 AM Reply

      Shan, oh those are cumins! Sorry! Just add it a t the end with garlic and chili flakes!

      • Shan

        March 24, 2014 at 4:04 AM Reply

        OK That makes total sense. Thank you!

  • Cindy H

    April 1, 2014 at 10:49 PM Reply

    This is my food fantasy. Can’t wait to make it!

  • Autumn C.

    July 5, 2014 at 2:21 AM Reply

    I Just made this tonight and I have some very picky eaters I’m happy to say that this was requested to be made again everything was delicious even the puree was so delicious I couldn’t help but keep eating it as the kofta was cooking. I didn’t have any greek yogurt but had something we call Labneh yogurt and it worked perfectly…..

  • Nora

    February 10, 2015 at 3:42 AM Reply

    If I was to write about my life I wouldn’t have been able to put it better than you have! Paraller universe much?! The recipe looks amazing too .

  • Lisa

    March 29, 2015 at 8:30 AM Reply

    This recipe is sublime…really it was one of the most delicious things I’ve made in a long time, the spice combination was spot on and the bean purée was 500 times tastier than garbanzos.

  • Bonnie

    April 14, 2015 at 3:59 PM Reply

    You say we need an egge but don’t mention using it in the method, can you please explain what is it for?

    • mandy@ladyandpups

      April 14, 2015 at 4:31 PM Reply

      Bonnie, oops! It’s supposed to go into the lamb-mixture. I fixed it in the recipe. Sorry!

  • Karl benson

    May 2, 2015 at 8:47 PM Reply

    Made a slight deviation from the recipe and grilled the lamb mixture. Beautiful. The process of emulsifying the water via the food is perfect. The “kebabs” grilled up wonderfully, crisp on the exterior, moist on the inside. Served as suggested with grilled naan. The only problem was the total lack of leftovers!

  • Urun

    June 30, 2015 at 2:32 AM Reply

    Those koftes were the best and i am actually turkish. Pinenuts go so well with kofte and to cook them in the oven first to set the shape is very clever! Nice to meet you, I will be following

  • Kea

    August 7, 2015 at 8:09 PM Reply

    This looks wonderful! My boyfriend is from Turkey and I will be making this tonight and am excited to impress :)

    You don’t say how long to leave the meatballs cooking in the oven- any approximations you can suggest? Thanks!

  • nesma

    November 15, 2015 at 9:44 PM Reply

    Hello, these meatballs look amazing…I am thinking about making them for a crowd. Can i make them ahead and freeze them…do you think they will taste as good ?

    • mandy@ladyandpups

      November 15, 2015 at 11:36 PM Reply

      Nesma, I’m not sure but I suspect that there would be some compromise in texture :)

  • Farida

    February 26, 2016 at 5:53 PM Reply

    Nice recipe

  • Karen

    July 9, 2016 at 9:00 AM Reply

    Is the serving size of 2 correct? This seems like heaps! :)

  • plasterer bristol

    August 9, 2016 at 2:30 PM Reply

    Never tried making these before, looks like a delicious recipe. Thanks for sharing.


  • Dianne Gillis

    August 22, 2016 at 2:15 PM Reply

    Mandy how many meatballs does it yield? I’m thinking of making a duplicate quantity of the recipe for a party..

    • mandy@ladyandpups

      August 22, 2016 at 9:17 PM Reply

      Dianne, I can’t remember but it would comfortably feed 2 to 3 ppl ;)

  • Diana

    June 2, 2017 at 4:40 AM Reply

    I’m compelled to say that this has been my go-to recipe countless times. Countless! And this evening it will fill the bellies of my guests once more who will, no doubt, ohh and ahh while I gloat. Thank you!

  • Tanya

    August 1, 2017 at 8:57 AM Reply

    This look unbelievable! Is there anything that could possibly be subbed for the greek yogurt? My husband is lactose intolerant, not sure what would work best here?

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  • Zehara

    July 11, 2021 at 2:22 AM Reply

    “That was greeeeet!” That was my husband’s comment just now after finishing dinner! My daughter cleaned her plate, very happy family! Thank you so much for an amazing tasty authentic recipe! Absolutely loved it xx

  • Tony D

    January 4, 2023 at 9:50 AM Reply

    Great dish, the final assembly looks and tastes amazing. I used a hand blender for the bean part and turned out good for us, and used ground turkey for the meatballs for a leaner option. Don’t forget the olive oil if you make this change, though.

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